A Continuing Series
Los Angeles, CA

Tom of Finland Foundation

After Dark
At the Foundation House — Saturday at 8 PM

The ToFF House After Dark Project

It wasn't only the promise of strange dick that attracted me to "Gay World" four decades ago.

I was just as drawn to the idea of a secret society, a hidden realm of sexual deviants, outlaws with their own codes and culture that operated (for the most part) unseen and unsuspected by the normal folk living their predictable, ordinary lives. A covert, furtive, illicit, illegal, immoral substrata of men thumbing their noses (and other body parts) at the accepted conventions of the day. Signaling each other not only with glances and gestures but also through the popular arts.

It was there. A subtle, winking acknowledgment in the movies, in the theater and in fashion. It was like having a secret decoder ring that allowed me to see things differently (and from my perspective -- TRUER) than those around me.

In the late sixties and early seventies there was a cinematic movement that began to recognize homosexuality as a part of the human experience for the first time. Tentative, awkward efforts to explore a facet of behavior that was still categorized as a mental illness by the medical community. It was startling, exhilarating and a bit alarming to see how even the best intentioned straight filmmakers (because most of the queer directors and producers were too shit-scared to be "outed" by making a movie that reflected their own situation) approached the material .

But it was finally US up there on the screen. We no longer needed to decypher the hidden meaning, extrapolate the true message or superimpose our expectations on the representation before us. It was magical to witness how our "official" visibility empowered and emboldened our tribe to ascend to a decent seat at the communal table. We were made real to the rest of the world through the portrayal of our lives on the silver screen.

Now there is a movement afoot to meld with the general culture. Bit by bit our uniqueness, our outlaw identity, our GLAMOUR, is being dissolved as we are urged to assimilate and "be just like them". And that is a shame. There was a time when we perceived the world differently (and in my mind's eye more rationally, more subjectively and with more clarity) because we were forced to examine our purpose and place in the world and invent a life for which there was no guidelines. And that is disappearing as gay youth find easier acceptance and less terror when they declare their sexuality.

But what went before, what galvanized us as a force in society should not be forgotten and swept under the carpet of homogenization.

That is why the Tom of Finland Foundation is initiating a summer series of movie clips and discussion and we're calling it "ToFF House After Dark". We'll watch a 40 minute presentation of film snippets illustrating certain aspects of how we were depicted in the early days of our exposure in the cinematic venue. As we are already preserving the art of that period it makes sense that we should also cherish and champion these seminal expressions of queerness on film.

We urge you to bring along a younger gay person (or persons) so that they too can have a better understanding of our shared heritage. These nights are informal and we expect to have a lot of lively conversation as well as a fun time. Be welcome, experience and share some of the early treasures that influenced our development.

Let's pass the torch with the style and grace we are best known for. See you at the ToFF House. After dark.

-- Michael Kirwan

Do you have ideas for clips & discussion?
Contact Michael Kirwan (below) to guest host one of our
After Dark evenings!

Foundation Headquarters
1421 Laveta Terrace, Los Angeles, CA 90026
(Echo Park) Map

For more information contact: Michael Kirwan at the Foundation 213.250.1685

Return to Events Page